This tale takes place in a neoclassical building with a storied history rooted in the turn-of-the-century cotton industry: Barcelona’s Cotton House Hotel rises in the former headquarters of the Cotton Textile Foundation. And that’s the thread that runs through the city’s new hot spot, from the in-room cotton swatch sample books to the spiffy on-site l’atelier room where guests can book a session with famed local shirt maker, Santa Eulalia. This hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, embraces its location.
You’re in the heart of all things iconic, architectural, delicious and even beachy. The Eixample district is a five-minute walk from Passeig de Gracia metro station, which means one can take the train from the Barcelona El-Prat airport and arrive at your lodgings in the centre of the city. So much is walkable from here, including the Picasso museum, Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, the Gothic Quarter and Cathedral, and Las Ramblas. It’s also just a 25-minute stroll to the port area in your brand new espadrilles.
The hotel’s Instagram star appears to be the long spiral staircase built in 1957, which is supported not by the ground floor, but rather suspended from the metal frame of the upper floor. It was a stunning innovation at the time, and still. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to behold: Original wood carvings, frescos and parquet flooring, the library with its walls lined with old books, delicate caning on door inserts and cotton plants in bud vases placed upon elegant desktops.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
Swing open the colonial-style shutters in your room and you’ll take in the city views. Book one of the upper floors, and you even can see the sea.
The staff is all about the warm welcome, sometimes with a cherry on top. Literally. During my summertime visit, I was offered a bowl of fresh cherries and sparkling water at check-in, while now, during the winter months, hot chocolate or punch with churros is served. And that rooftop pool isn’t a bad welcome during a Canadian winter, either.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
You’re only as good as the company you keep, and I hate to point fingers, but the rowdiness of some of the Yanks and Brits was like a bucket of cold water in an otherwise cottony smooth stay.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT
You don’t go to Barcelona and hang in your hotel. After all, this is one of the world’s great eating towns. There’s the La Boqueria market where you can slurp back oysters and cava after a shopping run, or have a modernist culinary adventure at Albert Adria’s new-wave tapas Tickets Bar. Dig into more simple expressions of tapas at Casa Delfin, such as meaty, grilled razor clams hit with citrus-scented olive oil; or one-bite tapa at Casa Martino, such as perfect boquerones (fresh, marinated white anchovies) and vermouth on tap.
That said, book at least one meal on the hotel’s terrace at the striking Batuar restaurant and bar, where palms and moonlit breezes are almost as sultry as the truffled pheasant croquettes and tomato-cherry gazpacho. The service is impeccable. When I sneeze loudly and unprepared, a server brings over a cocktail napkin on a china plate, with which to blow my schnoz.
Cotton House Hotel, 670 Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona, hotelcottonhouse.com, 83 rooms from $400.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.